We started our first weekend in Costa Rica at 7 AM, a little homesick but still enthusiastic enough to spend the day with the local community. After breakfast, we walked down the street to the local town houses and got divided into small groups of 4/5 students. Each group went to the house of their designated family members, meeting all the people in their family and asking “get to know you” questions about each other. We each got to experience the different traditions, work, and environment of our different families. We got to meet an array of age groups, from little kids to grandparents of the families we met, listened to their stories, likes, dislikes, as well as talking to them about our interests.

Yesenia: Being with the families made me very homesick due to the fact that my family is very similar. We always have a lot of family over every day of the week there’s always good food. Our front door is always open. It just made me realize that I need to appreciate those moments because they won’t last forever. This is what the family I was with today made me realize. Family and being in a community, together, are very important. Being able to feel at home in these homes today made me see that it’s not always about money, having a nice house, or the nicest things. It is about the love, support, and memories you make with each other. Overall, I had a good time with the amazing food and all the love given to me. Much love to them!

Adhvika: Meeting my host family made me appreciate my family more, really understanding that there are so many ways to spend time together as a family. It was really eye-opening to me how even though I’m in a whole other country experiencing a culture different from mine, some of the card games we played were the same, with variations to the rules of course. It made me realize and think about the basics that humanity needs – people, food, and a social structure. The people could literally be anybody who you know because, for those 5 hours that I spent with my host family, I felt right at home because of the feeling of comfort and family they gave in welcoming us to their home. Despite thinking about my family and feeling like I was missing out on time at home, the only thing I thought about for those 5 hours was them and the things they had to share, really focusing my attention on being in the present. This made me realize that this is a lesson I can take back home with me and that I can literally have an in-depth conversation with anybody if I really wanted to, despite being strangers. Super grateful for the family that hosted me and welcomed me into their home.

At the end of the day, we passed the torch to JC and Natalie.